Social Work Private Practice and Public Practice (Social Services)

Do you have questions about the differences between social work private practice and public practice? Learn the answers from contributing expert, Brandon Haydon, LCSW.

Social Work Private Practice vs. Social Services Facts

The main difference between social work private practice and social services tend to be the levels of need (think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) that are the primary focus. Often social services are geared towards the more socioeconomically disadvantaged and under-served populations in society (people experiencing homelessness, people living with severe mental illness, elderly persons, people living with disabilities, children in the foster system, refugees, etc). Social service roles tend to focus primarily or more explicitly on basic needs such as housing, food, safety, employment, legal advocacy, and linkage to other crucial health resources such as doctors and psychiatrists.

Social Work Private Practice is Focused On The Mental And Emotional Needs Of Individuals

Private practice, a more direct descendant of classic psychoanalysis and psychiatric practice, is more focused on the mental and emotional needs of individuals, relationships, and families. Because of the cost, people generally have private insurance coverage or are able to pay out-of-pocket for services; this generally means folks tend to have security and stability in their basic needs already. Often the main domain of intervention in private practice tends to be more explicitly on intrapsychic; meaning deeply personal, long-term, depth and process-oriented needs and skills, which are associated with the “higher” level psychological and self-fulfillment needs.

Answer provided by contributing expert, Brandon Haydon, LCSW:

Brandon Haydon, LCSW is an expert contributor to and currently works at the LifeWorks Psychotherapy Center in Chicago. Lifeworks is an explicitly inclusive practice welcoming clients of all ages, ethnicities, races, spiritual practices and religious traditions, genders and sexualities.

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What Are The Differences Between Public & Private Practice?
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What Are The Differences Between Public & Private Practice?
Learn everything you need to know about the differences between a social work private practice and a public practice.
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